We've teamed up with self-love and body image coach Chantal Lacoste from @tillieandtrue to bring you a series of posts this year covering topics around wellness, body image, and compassion toward ourselves and others. Today we’re happy to share our third guest post from Chantal! Be sure to check out Chantal’s other posts here and here.
Say Goodbye to Perfectionism, Say Hello to Shame Resilience
No one handles their shame the same.
When I was in my early twenties, I fed my shame and tried to find love and worthiness through control, using things like exercise, food, excessive shopping, long hours at work, and guilt-ridden partying. Even though I’ve done heaps of healing work since then, I still notice patterns, and sometimes I still make shame-based decisions.
I'm notorious for saying yes to things I haven’t fully thought through, don’t feel comfortable with, or don’t really want to do. You might handle shame in the opposite way – you might say no to things that deep-down you really want to participate in and would enjoy because you feel a strong force to deny your desires. Often, I’d rather 'conceal' my distress than show any weakness; it’s one of those imperfections I’m still working on. But other times, I’m more connected with myself; I breathe and take a second to figure out what I need in that moment and in the future.
Whatever our reactions and behaviours, feeling undeserving is a major piece that feeds shame. Your shame triggers – things like religion, work, family, sex, body image, friends, parenting, addiction, aging, and money – may be different from mine, but more often than not they will be based on our fears of not being worthy or loved.
Dr. Brené Brown, a researcher/storyteller most famous for her Ted Talk on vulnerability and fear, wrote about shame and her own experience with being authentic in her book, The Gift of Imperfections: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. This book is a great introduction to research-driven and eye-opening insights about, and practical tools for, letting go of the need for perfection.
If there’s one thing that has jumped out at me over and over in this book, it's that feeling you are enough starts with being able to say enough!!
I Am Loved, I Am Worthy, I Am Enough!
In this book, Brown writes, “"We combat not being enough by pleasing others and mastering our work. We say yes to things we don't want to and say no to things we want to for fear of showing our true selves and our biggest vulnerabilities."
Living in fear of what others think of us is no way to live. In just 198 pages, Brown made me realize that vulnerability is just the beginning of noticing your relationship with shame. By embracing your fears and letting go of the need to be perfect, you’re uncovering the next step to embracing yourself and your imperfections.
Brown writes, "Living wholeheartedly and understanding there are gifts in our imperfections is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It's about cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’ It's going to bed thinking, ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn't change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.’"
Choosing Authenticity Over Safety
Brown created her own definition of what it means to be authentic after studying thousands of people she perceived as living a “wholehearted life – living and engaging life from a place of worthiness, courage, compassion, and connection.”
According to Brown, “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”
When I first started making choices that were best for me in my personal life, work, and health, I had to battle with my own inner voices on a daily basis – and I still do. (Brown likes to call these voices our “gremlins,” noting that they are “loud and unrelenting.”) I still have voices that pop up and challenge me, saying things like:
• I don’t know what I’m doing. What if my boss thinks I’m an idiot?
• I said no the last time my friends asked me out. What if they stop inviting me? They’re going to forget about me.
• I’ve gained so much weight during my recovery. What if people think I’m ugly/fat/unhealthy now?
It’s terrifying to confront some of these voices, but not confronting them is even more risky.
So what does choosing authenticity look like? Well first, notice that Brown emphasizes that authenticity is a daily practice. Authenticity isn’t a natural instinct for most of us; instead it is many conscious choices we must make based on how we want to live our life. According to Brown, choosing authenticity means:
• “cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable;
• exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and
• nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe we are enough.”
Choosing authenticity is not always comfortable; letting go of your need to please others and be perfect is challenging. Yet, choosing what’s best for YOU has been proven time and time again to be one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and the people around you. As Brown describes it, “ ‘Staying real’ is one of the most courageous battles that we’ll ever fight.”
I can personally vouch that the choice to be authentic is really, really hard – but so worth it. When I began to let go of who I thought I was supposed to be – the small, quiet, and attractive girl – and started speaking up, showing up, and taking care of my needs, I started benefiting, and so did those around me.
Sometimes I still choose safety over authenticity when I’m really confronted with self-doubt or shame. The difference is that now, with practice, I recognize this choice much sooner and have better tools to recover.
Authenticity requires patience, energy, and vulnerability. When you want to quit, remember you’re not the only one. No one is perfect – not you, not me, not anyone. But we’re all in this struggle together, and we are enough!
Treat Yo’ Self!
To honour the themes of self-acceptance and self-care, and to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Spark, we’ve teamed up with Chantal and our retailers to bring you the first ever Spark Box and Spark Book Club event!
Spark Box features a collection of items that have been curated around the theme of self-care. The box includes a copy of The Gift of Imperfections, along with other relaxing and indulgent items like bath products, skin care products, tea, and chocolate treats.
Also included in the Box is your invitation to our free Spark Book Club event on October 6 in our Food Hall! Chantal will be at the event to talk more about this book and her experiences with authenticity and vulnerability, and we’ll be providing a free buffet breakfast.
To snag your Book Club invite, pick up a Spark Box at Customer Service in St. Vital Centre, available for purchase as of August 26! The box contents are valued at over $80, but you can grab one for just $40. Quantities are limited, so don’t wait too long to stop by!
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